Friday, October 29, 2010

Storm fascination

One of the most succinct comments/questions posed as this massive storm plowed through the Great Lakes area was posed by Alec BP, noted Chicago area paddler. 'With a record low pressure system working its way across the upper Midwest, which got stirred up more, the Great Lakes or the Great Lakes paddlers'? I would have to say it was a push, given the articles, blogs, Spacebook posts, and general buzz wherever paddlers get together. I know I've contributed to the din with a number of links, emails, and now a second post on the subject. Te buzz is only natural given the infrequent occurrence of a really big storm with really big waves. A big part of the attraction is the feeling of insignificance as we watch the waves crash and the trees blow over. The other factor of course, is the little voice in all of our heads saying, 'I can handle that....wait, maybe not.....oh heck yeah that would be fun'. It does sound like lots of surfing has taken place, especially the Michigan side of Lake Michigan and I'm just waiting to hear more about it.

The image at the top of the blog was shot by Bryan Hansel, a photographer,blogger, expedition paddler, and guide in Grand Marais, MN. The 'calm' image is one that I shot in July. I don't think anyone was walking out to the lighthouse on Tuesday or Wednesday. In fact it takes a close look to see that there even is a breakwater in Bryan's shot. For more of Bryans storm images, you can look here. Or on MPR's Updraft blog, the Duluth News Tribune, and various news stations around the area. Nicely done sir!

This blog preaches paddle safety, thinking ahead, and having the courage to 'abort the mission' when conditions warrant. That being said, there are those times when a person is stuck in the middle of it and all that can be done is to hang on, wait things out, and remember your training. One of the best descriptions of such an event is by Jack Gordon in a piece called "Milksop Nation" for which he won the Economist's Shell writing prize in 2002. The essay has to to with the flawed theory that we need to give up freedom to help insure safety, but the conclusion speaks to the power and memorable nature of storms, in this case on Lake Superior:

"Safety is a fine thing, but as an obsession it rots the soul. If I should live to be ninety, and I am called upon to attest to the other nursing-home residents that my life was about something racier than guessing right on the butter vs. margarine conundrum, I will speak of that thunderstorm on Lake Superior. I'll describe the touch-and-go struggle to keep the boat pointed just enough off the wind to maintain headway, and the jackhammer pounding of a madly luffing mainsail trying to spill a 75-knot gale. I'll talk about the way we huddled in the cockpit with our eyes rigidly forward because looking aft would mean another lightning-illuminated glimpse of the dinghy we towed, risen completely out of the water and twirling like a propeller on the end of its line.

Pleasant though many of them were, with the cheese and crackers and such, I doubt I'll have much to say about the hours I spent on Superior with the sails furled, motoring in perfect safety through flat water and dead air".

Paddle hard, paddle safe, paddle smart, and continue to appreciate the many moods of Ma Natures as she wows us with fabulous displays like one earlier this week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big water on Gitchee Gumee

Gitchee Gumee has been very angry for the past couple of days. The storm that came through, spawning tornados and dumping snow over the Great Plains, had a lower barometric pressure reading than the 'Edmund Fitzgerald storm' of November 10, 1975. The strong southwest wind has 20 foot waves surrounding Isle Royale and pounding the Canadian North Shore. I would like to see twenty footers on Superior sometime. From somewhere high, very high, on the shore of course.

At 6pm yesterday we took off from Boston's Logan Airport after watching the news of the storm and the cancellations and delays at Chicago O'Hare and Minneapolis. Our route on good ol' Air Tran was to Milwaukee and then on to MSP. My business associate suggested that if we made it to Milwaukee we could rent a car and drive the rest of the way. I suggested that perhaps we might get the hotel voucher and flip a coin and see if we should stuff ourselves at Maders or Karl Ratzsch's and then work our way through the Sprecher Brewing lineup. Our flight was on time though, and the Boeing 737 came in faster and lower than any commercial plane I've ever been on and a number of passengers were white knuckling their armrests. Our landing at Minneapolis/St Paul was almost identical except we were on the smaller Boeing 717. The image below is the sat photo of the storm, one of the largest in recent memory.

One of these times the VOR and I will note the weather forecast, blow off work, and head north for some wave and storm watching. As I drove home from the airport at 11am, watching the traffic lights dancing in the wind at every intersection, I wished I was up on the Keweenaw in Copper Harbor or Eagle River, watching the big lake show once again that it is indeed the boss.

941 AM CDT WED OCT 27 2010




16 FT.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Heading south

Against all of my normal instincts, the VOR and I migrated south this weekend. Lake Superior still has some prime paddling left, the deer are just entering the rut at the hunting camp, and its an up year in the 10 year grouse cycle. Still, we loaded up the boats and headed south to paddle Red Rocks lake, south of Des Moines, IA, with some old friends and to meet some new ones. It's funny how paddling those long skinny boats serves as the perfect introduction to all sorts of interesting people.
We rolled into Pella, IA on Friday night and were met by ProfessorLichen and a new acquaintance (and fellow blogger), DianeMK. We learned that the plan for Saturday would be assisting on an EcoTour and beginning paddle trip sponsored by the local paddle shop, CanoeSport Outfitters, and then heading out to explore the lake with a smaller experienced group. That sounded good to us. Red Rocks Lake, a US Army Corp of Engineers impoundment, had been 30' to 40' above normal all summer and then had been drawn down to repair some dam gates that had been damaged during the floods of the past couple of years. The resulting exposed 40 to 50 additional vertical feet of shoreline, mud flats, and sandstone cliffs sounded really interesting and reminded both the VOR and I of our paddle on Lake Sakakawea on the Missouri River during a drought year. The difference here was no 200 yard carry to the water and plenty of trees, mainly in prime fall colors, along the banks. I don't remember a single tree on Sakakawea. Even thought the weather forecast was dire, we were up for exploring some new water in the morning.

We were picked up Saturday morning by DrBackCracker of Devil's Island fame, had a healthful and nutritious breakfast, and headed for the put in. The rest of the gang, including the EcoTourists/students, arrived and we got foot pegs, paddles, and boats adjusted and were underway in pretty nice weather. ProfessorLichen led the group and talked about the geology, geography, and a bit of the history of the area, a nice naturalist overview of the area. We saw fossils, coal seams, layers of sandstone, and 200 million year old mudballs. Due to the rapid lowering of the lake after Labor Day, lots and lots of native mussels were stranded in the mud. While this was a kind of Old Country Buffet gone wild for the local raccoons, it was not such a good thing for the mussels, especially when it freezes. We all threw a few back in the water. The VOR got into it and threw back over a hundred. This pales in comparison with the couple thousand that ProfessorL had tossed back over the past few weeks, but every little bit helps. We headed back to the launch area for lunch, did a bit of rolling, got the students on their way home, and headed back out to explore the Elk Rock area with its high cliffs and caves. We also checked out the mile long bridge over the northwest end of the lake. Some more folks joined us and we had 8 paddlers on the way back to the launch. Doc and I had a keen interest in the outcome of the Iowa/Wisconsin game and managed to listen to the end of the Badger win on the radio. By now the forecasted weather had begun to roll in and we made to the Sports Page bar in the nick of time, where we were joined by the Omaha connection, and then by the rest of the crew.

It was a great weekend and a really interesting body of water. Plenty of eagles, lots of migrating pelicans, and nervous schools of shad that would leap out of the water en masse if you got too close. There was not a single power boat due to the drawdown. We paddled the next morning with Deb and Rich and looped around toward the dam before heading back. One incident from the evening before continued to puzzle me however. Just as we were leaving, the park ranger pulled up in his pickup. As usual, I began to run through the mental inventory of regulations that I had likely violated. Even though I hadn't even cracked my post paddle beer I must have done something because he headed right over to talk to me. To my surprise, he told me that he and his dad, beginning kayakers this year, really enjoyed reading the blog. He then told me of the existence of the Peace Tree Brewing Co in Knoxville, IA, less than 10 miles away. He seemed to have noticed a mention or two of good ale on this site. Hop Wrangler IPA and other interesting beers and none of our buddies had told us of the existence of this fine area resource. I don't think it was because anyone thought I was a teetotaler, or perhaps figured I might enjoy a nice cold Bud more. Nope, I think they were saving it for the next trip to the Red Rocks Lake area, a trip that will surely occur. We need to see that lake when its full of water, preferably in the spring so we can paddle further up the river when the waterfowl are migrating. I would also like to see Red Rocks when its a bit angry. A northwest wind with a 20 mile fetch over some deep water could be fun. It seems like we just never know when we're going to stumble on to a good kayaking venue. I guess a person just needs to keep their eyes and mind open.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weather and the kayaker

On Monday night I attended a talk sponsored by ISK with the same title as this blog post. It was researched and presented by fellow blogger, ACA instructor, and BCU trainee ATWPeggy. I assisted mightily in the research by eating as much Indian food as I possibly could during a luncheon discussion of Gitchee Gumee weather craziness a couple weeks back. It was a wonderfully informative and organized talk and the audience ranged from the 'I'd like to paddle Lake Superior' to the 'been there, done that' crowd. Wind and its traveling companion waves, as we all know, is the wild card in the trump suit, the determining factor on whether we paddle or drink beer in camp on any given day. A number of folks in the audience were on Lake Superior September 10, the day that the Allen Kachelmyer died of hypothermia off Sand Island, and the I thought the most intriguing discussion was on what the various paddlers did that day and why they decided to do it.

A relatively large group from ISK was up on Oak Island that weekend and split up to paddle around the island. Some of the stronger paddlers went all the way around and some of the newer paddlers did an out and back on the leeward side. They also welcomed a very shaken paddler who had done the crossing from Red Cliff point to Oak Island in the afternoon. Another group decided to stay on shore and just kick back for the day. The folks at Living Adventures watched two paddlers launch from Red Cliff and one capsized. The NPS came out and checked them out. Another group found a lee shore to paddle, a good option and always viable alternative in the midst of 22 islands. No one in the various groups did a crossing or even seriously considered a crossing that day.

Our Fall Trip crew were up on the Canadian north shore and experiencing very similiar weather and wind direction. We had crossed from Flatland to Mink Island and rafted up to debate whether to find a camp site and spend the night or head for the launch. Wind was almost dead east, 20 knots with 3'-5' seas, a meter to 1.5 meters according to Environment Canada in their half time English language report, with rain coming and wind picking up and veering south east. There was hemming and hawing about not cutting the trip short but the GreenThumbChef , our lone estrogen component, cut to the point quickly, nicely filling the normal role of her friend the VoiceOfReason, who did not make the trip. "Would you guys rather wake up tomorrow with everything wet, pack up wet gear, then battle beam seas back to the launch -or- head for the launch now, surfing on following seas, get a motel in Grand Marais, and sit in the Gunflint Tavern tonite with a cold pint in front of you?". I could almost see identical cartoon balloons forming above our three heads; the four of us at a table in the Gunflint, listening to live music, as we agonized over which of the 12 tap handles would be pulled at our behest. We very quickly got out of the lee of Mink Island and surfed into Sturgeon Bay where the cars were stashed. Our Friday evening was as good as our cartoon balloon images.

People come to their paddle/no paddle decisions in different ways. Sometimes its just that one little thing that can point the decision to go or not go, the proverbial tipping point. In all cases but one on that stormy Friday in early September, the 'correct' decision was arrived at but reached by very different routes. The one ill conceived decision paid the ultimate price.

We paddled on that Saturday morning as well, and the forecast was pretty accurate. Once again no crossings were made in the wind and seas but the BadHatter and I surfed a bit and practiced our rough water rolls off Grand Marais harbor in the predicted rainy blow. It was an onshore wind, we were definitely dressed for immersion, and we felt the risks were acceptable. Often, such as when I persuaded the guy in the shorts and sandals not to head to the Meyers Beach sea caves by slowly explaining the potential problems to him as he stood knee deep in 48F water, it just takes that one little thing to push people toward the safe decision. Sometimes 'I gotta get out there to start my vacation', 'I gotta get back to go to work', or the stupid macho 'I can handle it, this ain't nuthin' can be derailed by that one small fact or tidbit that causes the safety and logic synapse to fire in even the most bullheaded and rigid of brains. People need something to hang their rationalization hat on and sometimes finding that something can be a life and death task.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seasonal schizophrenia

As usual I don't know which way to turn this time of year. There is plenty of good paddling left and we will be heading for a new venue, Red Rocks Lake in Iowa, next weekend. It's the middle of grouse season in an up year in the 10 year grouse cycle, and there are signs that the bucks are beginning to get interested in the opposite sex, an event that always triggers my interest in sitting up in a tree with my bow. The VOR's youngest brother, BeepBeep, is making snow like crazy at Loveland and its almost the third anniversary of No1 son and my early season downhill ski/Monday night Packer game trip to Colorado. What the hell does a guy do this time of year?

The past weekend was easy. Head up to the camp. I have my out of state small game license, a license ridiculously priced for a taxpaying Wisconsin landowner, but I haven't bought my twice as expensive non resident bow license yet. I did get that familiar laid back feeling as I crossed the Amnicon river, then the 'River of Presidents', the Brule. The closer I get to camp the more relaxed I get but I still didn't have that psyched up grouse hunting feeling that I'm used to for the first hunting trip of the year. Maybe its too much stuff going on or maybe my brain just hadn't transitioned yet. The feeling hit full force on Saturday morning however.

Saturday morning dawned with me in bed. I heard the bow hunters bustling around to get out the door before dawn but I was in that minimally conscious stage and ignored it. At the crack of 8 I was up and made more coffee in the big blue ceramic pot. This was good old mountain grown Folgers, not hazel nut flavored Sumatran dark roast whole bean blah, blah, blah. That paint thinner flavor must be one of my hunting triggers because as I stepped on to the north deck to answer natures call (see above image for the view from the deck), smelled the fall air, saw the blue sky and the forest floor covered with leaves, the pulse began to quicken. Later on a trip to the outhouse, I flushed the Outhouse Grouse, our avian mascot and the excitement ratcheted another notch. The bowhunters returned and we had our usual healthful camp breakfast of yogurt, blueberries, granola.......what, you're not buying that? OK, OK, it was actually bacon, a couple eggs over medium, and homemade toast. After breakfast Podman and I grabbed the game vests, shotguns, and the most excited member of the party, Marley the grouse hunting machine. Now we were all pumped up!

I'd like to say we limited out but we never even fired a shot. We had 8 flushes, saw 4 of them, and never even got to pull the trigger. It was still a successful hunt and I have officially mentally entered yet another Wisconsin hunting season. I sat up in a couple of my bowstands, saw lots of deer sign, and launched a few arrows to confirm that I can still shoot. KingIronwood and I made some wood, cutting down a couple dead standing oak trees that had been claimed by Oak Wilt a couple years back. The image above is not necessarily the best way to do it, but we managed to free the trusty Pouhlan and get the sauna length wood back to camp. Now bring on those big bucks!

(Thanks to the GurneyGranny for the photo of the successful grouse hunt above. Even though she laced our fried potatoes with broccoli, onions, and mushrooms Sunday morning, we still love her)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water Wars

Today is blog action day and the subject is water. Regular readers know that I've done a few posts on water and its one of the subjects that I have a very keen interest in, being a water swilling organism. Those of us in the Great Lakes basin pretty much take water for granted but it won't always be the case if we continue on the path we seem to be heading down.

Water has always been both a necessity and a bone of contention. Water rights and diversion projects have always sparked controversy, often violence, and sometimes murder. The range wars in the American west and the underlying plot of the '70 movie Chinatown with Jack Nicholson and Fay Dunaway illustrate that. Our local version of that is described nicely in Peter Annin's 2006 book, The Great Lakes Water Wars. Its a must read for Great Lakes residents that depend on the water for life itself. The various schemes to extract the water, divert the water, pollute the water, and contaminate the water with biological invasives are fact. It's an excellent if not uplifting read.

Personally, I've actually seen a few things get better. When I was a kid, swimming in the Chippewa River was unheard of, mainly due to the crap that Sterling Pulp and Paper and the old man's employer, Uniroyal, dumped into the river. When it was finally stopped and truck loads of sludge were being hauled to a holding area, it made me shake my head that anyone could think that was a good idea to dump that in the river. The same thing could be said about the taconite tailings being dumped in Lake Superior. That too was stopped in favor of on land disposal. I still have a cup on my deck for when I'm in the open lake on Superior and drink from the lake if I'm more than a half mile offshore. The top photo is off Pictured Rocks on Superiors south shore. I've also seen a few things get worse. The euro paddle in the scum photo was taken on the lake that I grew up on when I was a kid. The Mississippi River is still carrying nitrogen and other farming chemicals downriver and contributing to the 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico. A recent documentary on the topic, Troubled Waters, was produced by the UofM's Bell Museum. The films debut was held up by a university VP who questioned the 'science'. The common perception was that university links and personal ties to big agriculture was what prompted the blocking of film, which has since been released to excellent reviews. That was mainly due to exposure of the censorship by the print media.

In times when people around the world are walking miles for fresh water, we're using it to flush the toilet. Its gonna catch up with us sooner that later and sooner seems the best bet at this point. So what can or are we willing to do? Some very small steps can make a difference. Don't let the water run while you are brushing your teeth. The old trick of the brick in the toilet tank will reduce the amount of water equal to the size of the brick every flush. Better yet, use a large rock that you picked up on the shore of Lake Superior. Or a new low flow toilet. Put a cheap water filter in your fridge. It will give you cold, delicious water and keep you from buying that environmentally disastrous PET bottled water. The one I was handed in a meeting yesterday had 'smaller environmentally friendly cap' on the label. WTF!? How about a glass of water with no cap....or bottle? Rain barrels are becoming more popular as are varieties of grasses that don't require tons of water. Actually, having no grass is really popular with yours truly due to the benefit of no lawn mowing, but I may be in the minority. On the macro scale, having your radar tuned to pay attention to news stories on water diversion, water pollution, or other water abusing schemes, and reacting strongly with your elected officials is crucial. I had mentioned in earlier posts that diverting Lake Superior water to keep the Caesars Palace fountain spurting, or loading up tankers full of Great Lakes Water for the Far East market would cause me to take to the woods and begin the guerrilla warfare campaign. When journalists expose these harebrained schemes it can be like turning on the light in a room full of cockroaches. They tend to scurry in a lot of cases.

Do the little things on the micro level and keep your eyes open and your voice heard on the macro level. I want my grandkids to have a cup on the deck of their kayak when crossing from Rocky to Oak Island. It can and must be done.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The full circle

I had a nice paddle in the St Croix River on Saturday and then had the opportunity to check out the fall colors from a different perspective on Sunday. RonO has renewed his pilots license and asked if I wanted to get some hours in with him. The answer of course, was 'damn right I do!'. We met at the airport at high noon and jumped into a 1954 Piper Super Cub, an aircraft that's the same vintage as I am. Coincidentally, this was the very same aircraft model that I flew in on my very first flight in 1964.

My mother and her parents believed very fervently that if God had meant for man to fly He would have given them wings. My grandparents never flew and thought it to be a wildly reckless activity, probably akin to wing walking in their minds. My dad on the other hand, loved to fly, especially without FW-190's, ME-109's, and the 9th and 10th SS Panzer division's flak batteries trying to interrupt his flights as they did from 1942 to 1945. He got his private pilots license when he got back from Europe and it was my arrival in 1954 that put and end to that particular type of fun. My mother finally got on an airplane when the old man delivered an ultimatum as they were considering a Vegas trip sponsored by the American Legion. The trip required flying out to Vegas on the North Central Airline's DC-3 and he told her that if she didn't want to fly, she could stay home. She flew. Very reluctantly, but she flew. One afternoon when I was about 10 years old, the old man and I snuck off from a family gathering at the cottage 'to get some groceries'. We headed to the Chetek,WI airport and its grass strip and, after being sworn to secrecy, I was stuck in the back seat of a Piper Super Cub, owned and piloted by a World War I vet and buddy of my dad's, Walt Homme. It was an incredible experience since I'd been reading about and watching airplanes since I could remember. I never thought I'd be climbing into the same aircraft 46 years later.

But there I was, trying to stuff my 6'4" frame into the back of this fairly small two seater. We had miked headphones so we could hear each other and quickly got clearance from the tower and took off. We headed west to avoid the MSP International traffic pattern and cruised at about 2,500'. It was a bit hazy but the colors were still spectacular as we followed the Mississippi River river west toward St Cloud. We headed south and flew over St Johns University in Collegeville, a beautiful campus in the midst of a number of lakes. By this time Ron let me take the stick, which took us from straight, level flight to drifting left, right, up, down, and I think we even were sideways like a three legged dog for awhile. I got the hang and feel of the stick after awhile and things got a bit more consistent. I remember Woody telling me the same thing happened to him in flight school when he learned how to hover a helicopter. We headed south toward Lake Minnetonka, scouting out the past and future sites of the annual Gales of November paddle, and then back to the hanger.

It was great. I boarded the plane with my shoes on, large jacknife in my pocket, nary a metal detector or full body scan, and no line. We flew at an altitude and speed that allows a person to see whats going on at ground level. Heck, we even opened the window to take a few pictures, an interesting sensation at 100mph. I noticed that the rudder on the Super Cub reacted exactly like the rudder on my last pre skeg kayak, and both Ron and I decided we needed to get a Mississippi River paddle in after our extensive aerial recon. It was a great afternoon and somehow had a certain symmetry after 46 years between my Piper Super Cub experiences.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall colors

I think the only people who don't enjoy the fall colors are those who dread winter and see the bright reds, oranges, and yellows as harbingers of the brutal winter that will soon be sweeping down from the Northwest Territories. For those of us with short attention spans, its just another great season in the never ending cycle in the north country. Kayaking this time of year is absolutely the best. Not only is the scenery exquisite but the temperatures won't cook or freeze a person, the water is still comfortable, and most insects are deceased. Humidity has disappeared as well and the general enjoyment level is at a point that can only be reached in autumn in the north woods. As soon as I hit 'publish post' I plan on joining some cronies on the St Croix River, a National Wild and Scenic River, to view the color peak as it moves south. Last week in Duluth it was peaking for the wedding but we really had no chance for exploring and playing in the woods. That was not the case further north the weekend before when the VoiceOfReason, her sister the Mayor, and I paddled Lake Vermillion.

The plan had been to camp on the new park land that had been purchased in the spring from US Steel to form the Lake Vermillion State Park. That plan was modified by an 'attractive nuisance' in the form of Hinsdale Island up toward the northwest corner of the lake. We thought about paddling down to the park site, but on a 40 mile long lake distances become a bit daunting. Hindsdale Island has a number of campsites on various points and bays and is maintained by the DNR. They are first come first serve and the DNR lady I talked to assured me that there would be no shortage of available sites after Labor Day and she was right. Even though it was a beautiful weekend the lake was fairly deserted except for us and the hardcore muskie fisherman, whaling away in pursuit of the top predator in our freshwater lakes. It's tough work since it has been estimated that it takes an average 10,000 casts to catch a legal muskie. Our goal was to paddle, kick back with some good food and adult beverages, and enjoy the color. Which is exactly what we did. On Saturday we took a 14 mile trip to the outflow of the Vermillion River. It winds its way north to Crane Lake and the southeast edge of Voyageur National Park. After a crisp night where the temperatures flirted with freezing, we got up and paddled almost to the Trout Lake portage entry to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, another 14 miles or so.

But enough babbling. I gotta go get ready to paddle. Enjoy the images and be sure to get out and enjoy the fall colors. If you paddle on the right lake you might even be able to enjoy them from a real chair with a cold beer and a burger, but however you decide to savor the fall be sure to take the time to do it. Its a fleeting spectacle for sure and before we know it, we'll be waxing up the skis.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Lake Superior wedding

Son Ian (1stLtO) and Ms. Elizabeth were married on the shores of Lake Superior at the U of M owned Glensheen Mansion in east Duluth. The whole famn damily was there from all points of the compass and the weather and Gitchee Gumee itself decided to cooperate perfectly. The only minor casualty was the father of the grooms liver, but it's expected to rally nicely. This is the third family wedding on Lake Superior in the past 3 years. We all suspect its something in the water.

When the kid from Minneapolis and the girl from Pipestone, MN, who had both been living in New York City for some time, picked Duluth for a wedding site I wasn't really surprised. Like a salmons spawning stream or a birds migratory path, that lake gets imprinted on certain people and has a mystical lure. The VOR's brotherBeepBeep got married up at the Lutsen ski area last fall and niece Jessica got married in a park high above Duluth the summer before. Neither were from the area and BeepBeep had been in Colorado for years, yet both decided to come back to the lake for the big event.

The whole weekend came off quite nicely. Superior gave us a little taste of what she was capable of at the rehearsal on Friday afternoon. A stiff southeast wind had the lake capping and the rain began just about the time we finished up. We adjourned to Sir Bens for the grooms dinner and then had the 'pre game show' at Clyde Iron Works. In keeping with the theme, Lake Superior Brewing's Kayak Kolsch beer was served. A wise ending time of 10:30 made for chipper wedding guests the next day, although there were unsubstantiated rumors that some of the guys that came over from the deer camp made a Thirsty Pagan stop on the way back to camp.

Saturday dawned cool and clear, perfect for we suit wearing guys but maybe not so perfect for the ladies, who had the off the shoulder dresses going. There was a lot of pre wedding standing around while a million or two pictures were taken but even that was entertaining because the beach was 30 yards away and every male from the two year olds to the grandpas spent the down time pitching rocks into the lake. As you can see, the guys in the wedding party managed to get some solid rock throwing time in as well. After the first couple, "Hey, where's so and so" from the photographers, they just strolled to the lake and rounded up the required photo victims.

The ceremony and reception came off without a hitch and the lovely couple are now up on the Canadian border, at the end of the Gunflint Trail, kicking back for a week before heading back to NYC on Friday. The VOR and I are taking it easy but both of us are heading north again Friday. She will be heading up on a womens hiking trip to the north shore of the lake and I'll be heading to the south shore and the hunting camp. My only decision is whether to take the kayak, salmon fishing gear, shotgun, or bow and arrows. Hmmm.....wait a minute! There's no reason I can't take em all! It should be another excellent fall weekend on Gitchee Gumee.